Heather Knight
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Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Institute

Ph.D. candidate in Robotics (August 11, 2016)
Ph.D. Thesis: Expressive Motion for Low-Degree of Freedom Robots
Committee: Reid Simmons, Manuela Veloso, Aaron Steinfeld and Guy Hoffman

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

M.S. 2008 in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
M.S. Thesis: Real Time Social-Gesture Recognition using a Full Body Array of Touch Sensors
Advisor: Cynthia Breazeal
B.S. 2006 in Electrical Engineering with minor in Mechanical Engineering.


– Tenure-track Assistant Professor Position at Oregon State University, Computer Science (Fall 2017)
– Post-doc at Stanford Center for Design Research under Wendy Ju (Fall 2016)
– National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2010-2014
– Named to Forbes List’s 30 under 30 in Science, 2011
– Awarded CMU Interdisciplinary Arts Award with Dan Wilcox, 2011
– TEDWomen Speaker, 2010
– Human Robot Interaction Pioneer, 2010
– British Video Music Award, OK GO, This Too Shall Pass: Rube Goldberg Machine, 2010


The Robot Film Festival: an annual short-film festival (2011-2015) celebrating robot storytelling on screen, which I founded, and co-produce with Marek Michalowski and Chrys Wu.
– 5th Annual Robot Film Festival, Row House Cinema, Pittsburgh, November 7, 2015
– 4th Annual Robot Film Festival, hosted by Bot&Dolly, San Francisco, July 19, 2014
– 3rd Annual Robot Film Festival, hosted by Bot&Dolly, San Francisco, July 21, 2013
– 2nd Annual Robot Film Festival, 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC, July 14, 2012
– 1st Annual Robot Film Festival, 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC, July 16, 2011

The Cyborg Cabaret: A variety show featuring human performers, robotics and technology on stage. The sold-out show took place at the New Hazlett Theater on April 27, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA. Supported by the Carnegie Mellon School of Art. Directed by Heather Knight and Dan Wilcox.

Silicon Comedy: A robot comedy performance created for TED-Women 2010 with over 600,000 views. Featuring Data the Robot and human-sidekick Heather Knight.

This Too Shall Pass (Rube-Goldberg Machine): One of the group leaders for VMA-winning music video featuring a Rube-Goldberg machine that we (Synnlabs) created for the band OK GO in 2010.

Syynlabs Halloween: A gallery of interactive art exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA, created for their annual Halloween Party in 2009.

Stardust: Installation at the 2009 International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence in Pasadena, CA, performing cell-phone tracking to control animated “comets in space” on a large outdoor display. Created with Dan Goods and Adam Harvey for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Cloud: An interactive sculpture with over 15,000 individually addressable optical fibers created by the MIT Mobile Experience Lab and installed at the Fortezza de Basso in Florence, Italy where I interned for the summer of 2008.

Cyberflora: An interactive robotic flower garden installed at Smithsonian-Cooper Hewitt Design Museum as part of their Fall 2003 Design Triennial. Created by Jeff Lieberman, Heather Knight, Dan McNaulty, Blake Brasher and Cynthia Breazeal.

Public Anenome: An interactive robot installation displayed in the Emerging Technologies exhibit at the 2002 SIGGRAPH conference. Created by Cynthia Breazeal’s Personal Robotics group.


Aldebaran Robotics: Field Applications Engineer. March-August 2010. North America.
Syynlabs: OK GO RGM, Technology-based Artist and Engineer, 2009-Ongoing.
NASA / Jet Propulsion Lab: Stellar Interferometry Software & Robotics, 2008-2010.
MIT Mobility Lab: The Cloud, Interactive Sculpture Software. Summer 2008. Florence, Italy.
Aldebaran Robotics: CDD in Sensor Design and Electronics. Spring 2007. Paris, France.
MIT Media Lab: Research Assistant for Prof. Cynthia Breazeal of Robotic Life, Prof. Deb Roy of
Cognitive Machine
THE HUGGABLE, robot companion with affective, relational touch. Sensate Skin, 2007, Thesis
Trisk, a robot that understands language by sensing its environment. Head Design, 2004-2005
RoCo, a robotic computer for learning companion research. Principle Designer, Summer 2004
Cyberflora, interactive robotic flowers. Mechanical Designer, September 2002-January 2003 (Featured in the Simthsonian/Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Triennial in NYC)
Public Anemone, interactive exhibit featured in SIGGRAPH 2002. Assistant Designer 2002
Siemens: Finite Element Analysis. Summer 2004. Munich, Germany.
MIT Artificial Gravity Lab: Conducted artificial gravity experiments. Fall 2001.


– Special Session Chair of HRI-Alt at the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI ’17), TBD 2017 in Vienna, Austria.
– Workshop Co-Organizer of Design for HRI Workshop, International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI ’16), March 7, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
– Program Committee, AAAI Video Competition, International Conference of Artificial Intelligence, 2016.
– Workshop Organizer of Art and Robotics: Freud’s Unheimlich and the Uncanny Valley, at International Conference of Robotics and Automation (ICRA ’13), with Ken Goldberg and Pericle Salvini. May 10, 2013 in Karlsruhe, Germany.
– Academic Chair at RoboGames for two years, curating a speaker series and student poster session during 30+ robot competitions April 22-23, 2012 and April 15-26, 2011 in San Mateo, CA.
– Organizing Committee Member for HRI Young Pioneers Workshop at the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI ’12), March 5, 2012 in Boston, MA.


– Invited talk: “Interactions with non-anthropomorphic platforms” at RSS Workshop on Embodied Experience and Movement Observation for Roboticists in Ann Arbor, MI, June 18, 2016.
– Keynote: “Charismatic Robots” at Smartcon in Istanbul, Turkey, May, 31, 2016.
– Invited talk: “Algorithms for Charismatic Robots” at Worcester Polytech Institute, University of California, Southern California, New York University, Simon-Fraser University, University of Michigan, Oregon State University, Spring 2016.
– Keynote: “Charismatic Robots” at Thinking Digital in London, UK, March 3, 2016.
– Social Robotics talk at Volkswagen Future Research in Wolfsburg, Germany, November 13, 2015.
– Keynote: “Charismatic Machines and Robot Comedy” at Google Israel’s Annual Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 29, 2015
– Panel: “Robots Everywhere: Is it good for us?” at BBC World Changing Ideas Summit with Kate Darling, Andrea Thomaz and Fernando Orellana in New York, NY, October 21, 2014.
– Chatham University’s Think Big Forum. Part of “Women Who Think and Create” speaker series in Pittsburgh, PA. October 14, 2014.
– Robot Comedy, Beakerhead Science Festival, Calgary, Canada. September 10, 2014.
SXSW panel: “Future Robot Workforce” with Dawn Tilbury, Hendrik Christenson and Elena Messina. Part of IEEE Technology for Humanity speaker series in Austin, TX. March 7, 2014.
New School’s Robot Dialogs event, with Peter Asaro, Lynn Hershman and Wendall Wallach in New York, NY. January 29, 2014.
– Keynote: “The Unconventional Communications of Moving Machines: Robots in Human Environments” at Robotics Alley Conference in Minneapolis, MN. November 12, 2013.
– “Charismatic Machines,” at University of Pennsylvania’s MEAM Seminar, Philadelphia. October 15, 2013.
– Robot Comedy at Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference at NYU, New York, NY, October 11, 2013.
– Keynote: “The Rise of Charismatic Machines” at the Association for Unmanned Vehicles and Systems International conference in Washington, DC. August 15, 2013.
– “Charismatic Machines and Robot Comedy,” NEXT Stage presentation at SXSW. Part of IEEE Speaker Series at in Austin, TX. March 10, 2013.
SXSW panel: “Comedy Tech: How Funny Stuff Shapes our Future” with Alf LaMont, Joel Warner and Peter McGraw at South by Southwest Conference in Austin, TX. March 9, 2013.
– “Social Robots, Cyborg Cabarets, and More,” at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Part of SciTech Middle School Program. March 5, 2013.
– Robot Theater panel with Hiroshi Ishiguru at The Japan Society to accompany the Seinendan Theater Company + Osaka University: Robot Theater double-act play in NYC. February 5, 2013.


How to Create Your Own Friends, Popular Science, September 2015

Ginger the robot wants to make you LOL, CNN, October 29, 2014

Why Humans Will Eventually Think of Robots as Friends, Business Insider, August, 9, 2014

Heather Knight is a Missionary for Social Robotics, Make Magazine, June 26, 2014

Bleep, Boop, Zing! Hemispheres Magazine, United Airlines, June 2014

How to raise a personable robot, London Financial Times, June 5, 2014

Why robots need personalities, BBC, May 1, 2014

Why the Rise of the Robot Workforce Is a Good Thing, Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2014

10 inspirational women engineers and scientists, EDN Network, March 7, 2014

A New Era of Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, WNYC The Takeaway, January 30, 2014

A Robot Walks into a Bar…, The New Yorker, December 10, 2013

25 Women in Robotics You Need to Know About, Robohub, October 15, 2013

Robot Film Festival hopes to make bots friendlier by telling happier stories, Motherboard, July 15, 2013

Data the Comedy Robot, GQ, June 2013

Cover, Wired UK, April 2013

Cyborg Cabaret: Right this way, your robot’s waiting, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2012

Robot Combat League: Heather Knight Tells Us About Her Experiences on the Show, IEEE Spectrum, March 19, 2013

Beauty and the ‘bot, New York Post, March 10, 2013

Knight gets “Medieval” on Robot Combat League, RI Press Release, February 15, 2013

I Tell Stories With Robots, CNN Next List, January 2013

Meet the Woman Who’s Giving Machines Their Personality, Oprah Magazine, November 2012.

What a Mechanical Performance! Bravo! New York Times, July 5, 2012.

Submit to the Robots, or at least their Robot Film Festival, Singularity Hub, May 22, 2012.

The Cyborg Cabaret Invades Pittsburgh This Friday, The Creators Project, April 25, 2012

A Researcher and a Robot Walk into A Bar, Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2012

Good Robots Make Jobs, NPR Marketplace, March 27, 2012

Roboticist sees improvisation through machine’s eyes, CNN, Feb 4, 2012

Rising Stars Of Science: The Forbes 30 under 30 in Science, Forbes, December 19, 2011

TV Interview: Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN, September 4, 2011

A Red Carpet Premiere for Robot-kind, MIT Technology Review, July 28, 2011

Innovation Agents: Heather Knight, Social Roboticist, Fast Company, February 7, 2011

League of Extraordinary Nerds, Fast Company, January 10, 2011

Cover, New Scientist, December 2010

Robot, robot, wherefore art thou robot? New Scientist, December 22, 2010

Heather Knight’s Rube Goldberg Machine Infatuation, PopTech, October 20, 2010

World’s First Robot Census, MIT Technology Review, October 11, 2010

heather knight

Social Roboticist
San Francisco / Corvallis / Portland
Twitter: @HeatherKnight


electronic art